BALLARAT survivors and family members affected by clergy sexual abuse are preparing to speak out as public hearings get under way today in a long-awaited parliamentary inquiry.
The inquiry into the handling of sexual abuse by religious and other organisations will today hear from witnesses, including senior police, public servants and policy experts
A group of 11 Ballarat survivors, assisted by lawyer and researcher Judy Courtin, made a joint submission to the inquiry, co-signed by a further 21 individuals from the region.
Sydney University Law School professor Patrick Parkinson will give evidence today, after conducting two independent reviews of the Catholic Church’s contested Towards Healing protocol for dealing with complaints of sexual abuse, which he said was a positive mechanism for victims to receive compensation.
“However, the church has done less well in dealing with offenders in its midst, and in some cases at least, the promises it made in Towards Healing have not been fulfilled,” Professor Parkinson said in his written submission.
“I have seen first-first hand the efforts the church has made to cover-up its failures and wrongdoing in the very recent past.”
Retired Ballarat Bishop Peter Connors and Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart have offered to co-operate fully with the inquiry and Sydney Archbishop Cardinal George Pell has said he is willing to give evidence if called.
The inquiry will present its report to parliament by April 30.